I don't know about everyone else, but the early food stages (ages 6-12 months) are the most challenging for me. Food has to be soft to chew, not stringy (like green beans can be) or have skins (like blueberries or grapes) and easy for baby to pick up, chew and digest without choking. Aden has always preferred feeding himself over eating baby food purees, so I transitioned to baby led weaning far sooner than I ever did with Tory. Some of Tory's favorite foods are yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese (basically, everything dairy!) and given Aden's sensitivity to milk, those foods are a no-go for him. It's difficult coming up with foods they'll both eat. Sometimes I feel like a short-order cook preparing separate meals for everyone.
One morning as I was making a frozen waffle for Tory, I tossed a few bites onto Aden's high chair tray for him to try. Big mistake. Within minutes, my poor baby boy began to cry and broke out in hives all over his face and chest. I dashed to the freezer to read the nutrition label on the back of the Eggo waffle box and sure enough, milk was listed as an ingredient. Gah. Maybe it should have been obvious to me, but I'd never considered it before. I realized in that moment I owe it to my children to be more diligent in reading labels and mindful about what I feed them.
Since that day two months ago, I strictly follow the "three day rule" when introducing new foods to Aden. I know, I know ... it's suppose to be the rule when introducing new foods to babies anyway, but with Tory it never seemed to matter. Now it feels like I feed Aden the same foods over and over again, but it's necessary to see if he develops a reaction. And honestly, I don't think he really cares. Avocado was one food I'd fed Aden once or twice before without issue, and suddenly at one meal he developed a rash all over.
I keep a running list of safe foods Aden can eat taped to the inside of one of our kitchen cabinets, so anyone (family members, babysitters, etc.) have a guideline to go by should there ever be a meal time I'm not there to feed him. I also included foods Aden cannot have (such as the kid-favorite Goldfish crackers, which shamefully took me a minute to realize had cheese as an ingredient).
Slowly, I'm developing a repertoire of dairy-free foods and recipes safe for Aden to eat. This week, I made healthy carrot apple muffins for Tory and Aden and they were surprisingly moist and delicious. Both kids gobbled them up and they were simple to make, too. I'm pleasantly surprised by the number of dairy-free substitutes on the market including Earth Balance butter and mayonnaise. Any other dairy-free foods or recipes out there I should try? This mama is all ears.
|Mmmm ... carrot apple muffins|
My new job of reading labels definitely has me thinking about the foods I feed my family. For one, it's crazy how many foods have dairy in them. (McDonalds French fries! Spaghetti-O's!) I worked in marketing for a food-service company prior to my gig as a stay-at-home-mom, so I wasn't completely naive in the importance of nutrition labeling, but I really took a blind eye to it all. Some people need to know this information, but not me. Not anymore. Now I'm *trying* to transition to more scratch-based cooking and clean eating, but it's tough! Though, it's also staggering to realize how terrible the processed foods I'm feeding my family are, and it's silly to go to all the effort of researching recipes and preparing food for Aden only to eat junk myself. Immediately I've noticed how planning ahead has helped in eating healthier. I struggle to find something for Aden to eat on the fly, so lately I've been steaming and roasting vegetables at the beginning of the week so I can quickly re-heat something for him to eat at meal times. I'm also back on the meal planning bandwagon for family breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I know from experience that if I can reference a meal plan, I eat and cook healthier. It's the 5 o'clock scramble that gets me in trouble.
I'm crossing all my fingers and toes my sensitive boy grows out of this need to eat dairy-free, but in the meantime perhaps it'll steer our entire family into a healthier direction and that can't be such a bad thing.